Online Primary Sources for American History: Transcribed Civil War Letters

Those of us who do research with primary sources such as letters and diaries know the frustrations that can be encountered in trying to read another person’s handwriting, let alone decipher the at times bizarre orthographical constructions we encounter. Transcription projects, many staffed by volunteers, provide easier access to these important materials. Some good collections include: Civil War Diaries and Letters (University of Iowa); Civil War Letters Collection (University of Washington); Civil War Collection (includes letters, diaries, papers, Michigan State University); Letters and Diaries (Valley of the Shadow); The Civil War in Letters (Newberry Library); Vermonters in the Civil War (University of Vermont); “I Take Up My Pen” (Gilder Lehrman Collection); Manuscripts of the American Civil War: Letters and Correspondences (Notre Dame); and books of Civil War letters (HathiTrust).

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